Charlottetown, 24 June 2021
The high incidence of people feeding foxes, the current situation of disease in a previous high density city fox population, and the desire to keep wildlife wild has motivated several organizations to collaborate to look for more rational ways of relating to the red fox. Nature PEI is launching an anti-fox feeding campaign in collaboration with the municipalities of Charlottetown and Summerside, a wildlife veterinarian at the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division. Personnel from Parks Canada are lending their expertise to the project and the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund is another supporter. Signs and brochures will soon be appearing and social media with our partners will be spreading our messages to Islanders, young and old.
In 2015, Kristine Martin completed her Masters research on red foxes at the University of Prince Edward Island. She noted that very few people believe feeding the red fox is wrong and 32% of people responding to a questionnaire put out food for the red fox, or would feed them if they could. Indeed, most people who were kindly supplying food to urban foxes did so because they thought the fox would be unable to find enough nourishment in the city. They did not realize that city foxes are perfectly capable of finding their own food such as mice, rats, earthworms, moths and June bugs at street lamps, and fruits like strawberry, apples and raspberries.
No-one wants to re-create the situation in Charlottetown where, with extra feeding, many foxes became crammed into a few city blocks, and disease soon struck and spread. Mange reduced the Charlottetown fox population after 2017 to the extent that people rarely sighted these animals. We can help foxes recover good health by promoting a low density population that finds its own food. Meanwhile, Summerside is similarly densely populated with red foxes, and mange is present.
Nature PEI is interested in hearing from other municipalities, organizations and people who share our concerns. Let’s promote the re-wilding of the red fox together.
Media please contact: Rosemary Curley (902) 569-1209 firstname.lastname@example.org